OIA remains the final refuge

September 8, 2011

I write to dissociate the Improving Dispute Resolution Advisory Service in the strongest possible terms from any suggestion that we consider the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to be "obsolete" ("Speedier alternative to 'obsolete' OIA unveiled", 1 September).

Through its seminars and workshops, the OIA does a great deal to help institutions keen to review their systems of dispute prevention and improve their dispute-resolution practice when dealing with student complaints, as well as providing a reliable avenue of recourse for students at no cost to the students themselves.

This is not work that can be replaced by the one-off adjudication service offered by the Centre for Justice (however effective and innovative this proves to be): its place is at the internal stage. Institutions and students are already free to agree to use alternative routes to resolution at this stage. Once internal procedures are exhausted, however, the OIA remains the appropriate place for students to go with unresolved complaints.

G.R. Evans, University of Cambridge

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